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Edward MacDowell (Composer, Arranger)

Born: December 18, 1860 - New York, NY, USA
Died: January 23, 1908 - New York, NY, USA

Edward Alexander MacDowell was an American composer and pianist from the Romantic period, best known for his second piano concerto and his piano suites Woodland Sketches, Sea Pieces, and New England Idyls.


Edward MacDowell received his first piano lessons from Juan Buitrago, a Colombian violinist who was living with the MacDowell family at the time. MacDowell later received lessons from friends of Buitrago, including Teresa Carreño, a Venezuelan pianist. His family later moved to Paris, France and in 1877 Edward MacDowell was admitted to the Paris Conservatoire. MacDowell then went to Dr. Hoch's Konservatorium in Frankfurt, Germany to study piano with Carl Heymann and composition with Joachim Raff. When Franz Liszt visited the Conservatory in 1879 and attended a recital of student compositions, MacDowell presented some of his own compositions along with a transcription of a Liszt symphonic poem. MacDowell also taught piano at the Darmstadt Conservatory for a year.

In 1884, Edward MacDowell married Marian Griswold Nevins, who had been one of his piano students. About the time that MacDowell composed a piano piece titled Cradle Song, Marian suffered an illness that left her unable to bear children.

The MacDowells settled first in Frankfurt, then in Wiesbaden. From 1885 to 1888 MacDowell devoted himself almost exclusively to composition. Driven in part by financial difficulties, he decided to return to America in the autumn of 1888. They lived in Boston until 1896, when MacDowell became professor of music at Columbia University, a position he held until 1904.

Besides his own compositions, which include two piano concertos, two orchestral suites, four symphonic poems, four piano sonatas, piano suites, and songs, Edward MacDowell published dozens of piano transcriptions of mostly 18th-century pre-piano keyboard pieces.

From 1896 to 1898, Edward MacDowell published 13 piano pieces and 4 partsongs under the pseudonym of Edgar Thorn. These compositions were not mentioned in Lawrence Gilman's 1909 biography of MacDowell. They were listed without opus numbers in MacDowell's Critical and Historical Essays (1912) and in John F. Porte's Edward MacDowell (1922). An Arthur P. Schmidt edition of "Forgotten Fairy Tales" bearing "Copyright 1925 by Marian MacDowell" is without the "Op. 4" sometimes attached to that suite. MacDowell himself had been responsible for designating his "Two Old Songs" (1894) as his "Op. 9", which was misleading, as MacDowell's published compositions began with op. 10 in 1883. That misleading "Op. 9" provided someone an excuse for assigning the Edgar Thorn compositions opus numbers in the open 1 through 7 range.

In 1904, Edward MacDowell was one of the first seven people chosen for membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The MacDowells envisioned establishing a colony for artistic productions near their summer home in Peterborough, New Hampshire. After being run over by a Hansom cab in 1904, MacDowell began to lose his mental capacities. The Mendelssohn Glee Club, for which he had composed choral music, raised money to help the MacDowells. Edward MacDowell died in 1908 and was buried in MacDowell Colony, which Marian MacDowell had established in 1907.


The following lists were compiled from information in collections of the sheet music and from the lists of compositions in Lawrence Gilman's Edward MacDowell: A Study (1908) and John F. Porte's Edward MacDowell (1922).

Published compositions for piano, a complete listing
Op. 10 First Modern Suite (1883) I. Praeludium - II. Presto - III. Andantino and Allegretto - IV. Intermezzo - V. Rhapsody - VI. Fugue
Op. 13 Prelude and Fugue (1883) I. Prelude - II. Fugue
Op. 14 Second Modern Suite (1883) I. Praeludium - II. Fugato - III. Rhapsody - IV. Scherzino - V. March - VI. Fantastic Dance
Op. 15 First Concerto (1885) I. Maestoso - II. Andante tranquillo - III. Presto
Op. 16 Serenata (1883)
Op. 17 Two Fantastic Pieces (1884) I. A Tale - II. Witches' Dance
Op. 18 Two Compositions (1884) I. Barcarolle - II. Humoreske
Op. 19 Forest Idyls (1884) I. Forest Stillness - II. Play of the Nymphs - III. Revery - IV. Dance of the Dryads
Op. 20 Three Poems (1886) duets I. Night at Sea - II. A Tale of the Knights - III. Ballad
Op. 21 Moon Pictures (1886) duets I. The Hindoo Maiden - II. Stork's Story - III. In Tyrol - IV. The Swan - V. Visit of the Bear
Op. 23 Second Concerto (1890) I. Larghetto calmato - II. Presto giocoso - III. Largo
Op. 24 Four Compositions (1887) I. Humoreske - II. March - III. Cradle Song - IV. Czardas
Op. 28 Six Idyls after Goethe (1887) I. In the Woods - II. Siesta - III. To the Moonlight - IV. Silver Clouds - V. Flute Idyl - VI. The Bluebell
Op. 31 Six Poems after Heine (1887,1901) I. From a Fisherman's Hut - II. Scotch Poem - III. From Long Ago - IV. The Postwaggon - V. The Shepherd Boy - VI. Monologue
Op. 32 Four Little Poems (1888) I. The Eagle - II. The Brook - III. Moonshine - IV. Winter
Op. 36 Etude de Concert (1889)
Op. 37 Les Orientales (1889) I. Clair de Lune - II. Dans le Hamac - III. Danse Andalouse
Op. 38 Marionettes (1888,1901) I. Prologue - II. Soubrette - III. Lover - IV. Witch - V. Clown - VI. Villain - VII. Sweetheart - VIII. Epilogue
Op. 39 Twelve Studies (1890) I. Hunting Song - II. Alla Tarantella - III. Romance - IV. Arabesque - V. In the Forest - VI. Dance of the Gnomes - VII. Idyl - VIII. Shadow Dance - IX. Intermezzo - X. Melodie - XI. Scherzino - XII. Hungarian
Op. 45 Sonata Tragica (1893) I. Largo maestoso - II. Molto allegro, vivace - III. Largo con maesta - IV. Allegro eroica
Op. 46 Twelve Virtuoso Studies (1894) I. Novelette - II. Moto Perpetuo - III. Wild Chase - IV. Improvisation - V. Elfin Dance - VI. Valse Triste - VII. Burlesque - VIII. Bluette - IX. Traumerei - X. March Wind - XI. Impromptu - XII. Polonaise
Op. 49 Air and Rigaudon (1894) I. Air - II. Rigaudon
Op. 50 Sonata Eroica (1895) "Flos regum Arthurus" I. Slow, with nobility - II. Elf-like, as light and swift as possible - III. Tenderly, longingly, yet with passion - IV. Fiercely, very fast
Op. 51 Woodland Sketches (1896) I. To a Wild Rose - II. Will o' the Wisp - III. At an Old Trysting Place - IV. In Autumn - V. From an Indian Lodge - VI. To a Water-lily - VII. From Uncle Remus - VIII. A Deserted Farm - IX. By a Meadow Brook - X. Told at Sunset
"Op. 1" Amourette (1896) by Edgar Thorn
"Op. 2" In Lilting Rhythm (1897) by Edgar Thorn I. Capriciously, yet not slow - II. Not slow, liltingly
"Op. 4" Forgotten Fairy Tales (1897) by Edgar Thorn I. Sung outside the Prince's door - II. Of a Tailor and a Bear - III. Beauty in the Rose-Garden - IV. From Dwarf-land
"Op. 7" Six Fancies (1898) by Edgar Thorn I. A Tin Soldier's Love - II. To a Humming Bird - III. Summer Song - IV. Across Fields - V. Bluette - VI. An Elfin Round
Op. 55 Sea Pieces (1898) I. To the Sea - II. From a Wandering Iceberg - III. A. D. 1620 - IV. Starlight - V. Song - VI. From the Depths - VII. Nautilus - VIII. In Mid-Ocean
Op. 57 Third Sonata (1900) I. Mesto, ma con passione - II. Tristamente, ma con tenerezza - III. Allegro con fuoco
Op. 59 Fourth Sonata (1901) I. With great power and dignity - II. With naive tenderness - III. Very swift and fierce
Op. 61 Fireside Tales (1902) I. An Old Love Story - II. Of Br'er Rabbit - III. From a German Forest - IV. Of Salamanders - V. A Haunted House - VI. By Smouldering Embers
Op. 62 New England Idyls (1902) I. An Old Garden - II. Mid-Summer - III. Mid-Winter - IV. With Sweet Lavender - V. In Deep Woods - VI. Indian Idyl - VII. To an Old White Pine - VIII. From Puritan Days - IX. From a Log Cabin - X. The Joy of Autumn

MacDowell also published two books of Technical Exercises for piano, a piano duet transcription of his first suite for orchestra (op. 42), and a piano solo version of op. 42, no. 4, "The Shepherdess' Song", renamed "The Song of the Shepherdess".

Published compositions for orchestra, a complete listing
Op. 15 First Concerto (1885)
Op. 22Hamlet and Ophelia (1885)
Op. 23 Second Concerto (1890)
Op. 25 Lancelot and Elaine (1888)
Op. 29 Lamia (1908)
Op. 30 Two Fragments after the Song of Roland (1891) I. The Saracens - II. The Lovely Alda
Op. 35 Romance for Violoncello and Orchestra (1888)
Op. 42 First Suite (1891-1893) I. In a Haunted Forest - II. Summer Idyl - III. In October - IV. The Shepherdess' Song - V. Forest Spirits
Op. 48 Second Suite (1897) I. Legend - II. Love Song - III. In War-time - IV. Dirge - V. Village Festival

Published songs:
Op. 11 and 12 An Album of Five Songs, for voice and piano (1883) I. My Love and I - II. You Love Me Not - III. In the Skies - IV. Night-Song - V. Bands of Roses
Op. 26 From an Old Garden, for voice and piano (1887) I. The Pansy - II. The Myrtle - III. The Clover - IV. The Yellow Daisy - V. The Blue Bell - VI. The Mignonette
Op. 27 Three Songs, for male chorus (1890) I. In the Starry Sky Above Us - II. Springtime - III. The Fisherboy
Op. 33 Three Songs, for voice and piano (1894) I. Prayer - II. Cradle Hymn - III. Idyl
Op. 34 Two Songs, for voice and piano (1889) I. Menie - II. My Jean
Op. 40 Six Love Songs, for voice and piano (1890) I. Sweet, Blue-eyed Maid - II. Sweetheart, Tell Me - III. Thy Beaming Eyes - IV. For Love's Sweet Sake - V. O Lovely Rose - VI. I Ask but This
Op. 41 Two Songs, for male chorus (1890) I. Cradle Song - II. Dance of the Gnomes
Op. 43 Two Northern Songs, for mixed chorus (1891) I. The Brook - II. Slumber Song
Op. 44 Barcarolle, for mixed chorus with four-hand piano accompaniment (1892)
Op. 47 Eight Songs, for voice and piano (1893) I. The Robin Sings in the Apple Tree - II. Midsummer Lullaby - III. Folk Song - IV. Confidence - V. The West Wind Croons in the Cedar Trees - VI. In the Woods - VII. The Sea - VIII. Through the Meadow
Op. 9 Two Old Songs, for voice and piano (1894) I. Deserted - II. Slumber Song
Two Songs from the Thirteenth Century, for male chorus (1897) I. Winter Wraps his Grimmest Spell - II. As the Gloaming Shadows Creep
Op. 52 Three Choruses, for male voices (1897) I. Hush, hush! - II. From the Sea - III. The Crusaders
Part-Songs Published under the Pseudonym of Edgar Thorn: Love and Time (1897), The Rose and the Gardener (1897), The Witch (1898), War Song (1898)
Op. 53 Two Choruses, for male voices (1898) I. Bonnie Ann - II. The Collier Lassie
Op. 54 Two Choruses, for male voices (1898) I. A Ballad of Charles the Bold - II. Midsummer Clouds
Op. 56 Four Songs, for voice and piano (1898) I. Long Ago - II. The Swan Bent Low to the Lily - III. A Maid Sings Light - IV. As the Gloaming Shadows Creep
Op. 58 Three Songs, for voice and piano (1899) I. Constancy - II. Sunrise - III. Merry Maiden Spring
Op. 60 Three Songs, for voice and piano (1902) I. Tyrant Love - II. Fair Springtide - III. To the Golden Rod
Summer Wind, for women's voices (1902)
Two College Songs, for women's voices (1907) I. Alma Mater - II. At Parting

Source: Mostly Wikipedia Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (June 2007)

Bach-MacDowell: Edward MacDowell | Works | Recordings

Links to other Sites

Jonathan Hiller's Edward MacDowell Page
Edward MacDowell (Wikipedia)
Edward MacDowell Biography (Naxos)
Edward Macdowell (Classical Net)
Edward MacDowell (Encyclopaedia Britannica)
MacDowell, Edward Alexander [1860-1908] - American composer

University of New Hampshire Library: Edward MacDowell
Edward MacDowell (PBS - I Hear America Singing)
Classical Music Archives: MacDowell
Edward MacDowell (Classical Composers Database)
Edward MacDowell (Find A Grave)
Edward Macdowell (Karadar)


Lawrence Gilman: Edward MacDowell: A Study (New York, 1909)
W. J. Baltzell (editor): Critical and Historical Essays: Lectures Delivered at Columbia University by Edward MacDowell (Boston, 1912)
Oscar Sonneck: Catalogue of First Editions of Edward MacDowell (Library of Congress, 1917)
John F. Porte: Edward Macdowell: A Great American Tone Poet, His Life and Music (New York, 1922)

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